May is Stroke Awareness Month.Stroke is now the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, but it can be preventable and treatable.We want people to be aware of the causes of stroke, their risk factors and the importance of early treatment.
When a stroke occurs, a blood vessel in the brain is either blocked by a clot or may burst open. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get blood with oxygen that it needs, so the brain cells die. This can happen within minutes, and when brain cells die, the part of the body they control can no longer function.
While this is a scary thought, there are treatable risk factors that people can address. Risk factors that can be managed or treated include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, atrial fibrillation (irregular heart rhythm), blood clotting disorders, excessive alcohol use and illegal drug use.
Living a healthy lifestyle can actually prevent strokes.People should take prescribed medications for diagnosed health issues, eat a healthy diet, stay physically active, maintain a healthy body weight and not smoke or drink alcohol excessively. If someone is struggling with these things, they should contact their health care provider for help.
If you or a loved one does suffer from a stroke, it is important to recognize it and treat it as an emergency. Symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; and sudden trouble seeing or walking are among the warning signs. If at any time you suspect you or someone you are with is having a stroke, immediately call 911. There is only a short window of time during which “clot-busting” medication can be effective in restoring blood flow. Do not to try to wait out the symptoms to see if they go away.Remember, “time is brain.”